An examination by an Idaho newspaper has found that the median salary for women in Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter’s Cabinet is about $17,500 less than men.
The Idaho Statesman reports the median salary for the 11 women in Otter’s Cabinet is $85,446, while the median for the 33 men is $103,002.
Otter, whose salary is $115,300, declined to comment.
“The governor is concerned about the pay of all state employees,” Otter spokesman Jon Hanian told the newspaper in an email. “It is why one of the first things he did as governor was to push for a pay increase for state workers. As you know, the downturn in the national economy forced us to scale back, and temporarily delay(s) our efforts to increase state workers pay. However, addressing pay inequities at all levels of state government remains a priority for this administration and as the economy improves, we will continue to address those issues, as we are doing with a CEC (change in employee compensation) this year.”
The top paid woman in Otter’s Cabinet is Agriculture Director Celia Gould, who at $106,621 is the 16th highest paid of the 44 full-time Cabinet members. Jim Alcorn, the fund manager for the State Insurance Fund, tops the list at $190,008.
“We really do have a glass ceiling in Idaho,” said Rep. Wendy Jaquet of Ketchum, the senior Democrat in the Legislature and a member of the budget committee.
Gould, a respected former legislator, oversees 259 employees. She has been with Otter from the first day of his administration in 2007 and was also a leading figure in his campaign.
Meanwhile, Commerce Director Jeffrey Sayor, hired in October, makes $145,018. He oversees 53 employees.
“Director Gould is about $38,000 under the newly employed Jeff Sayer,” Jaquet said. “You can’t argue she doesn’t have as many employees. Our state is no different than the national averages that show women reach a ‘glass ceiling’ for promotion and pay.”
Sen. Joyce Broadsword, R-Sagle, said she wasn’t surprised by the gender pay gap.
“This is not an Idaho-centric problem, but one that is nationwide,” Broadsword said. “Women continue to be viewed as subordinate to men and not worth as much as men when it comes to the same pay for the same job.
But Broadsword also said women in Otter’s Cabinet might make less because policymakers place different levels of significance on different agencies.
“I suspect it is not always that it is a female director who is paid less, but an agency which is not as important,” she said.
Dennis Lake, R-Blackfoot, didn’t cite discrimination as the source of the difference.
“Rather, I suspect that the pay differential is the job description differential and/or time in the position,” said Lake, the House Revenue and Tax Committee chairman. “For example, I suspect the pay for (Parks and Recreation Director) Nancy Merrill’s position would be the same whether a man or woman held the job.”
Merrill makes $83,320, the same as her male deputy director, Dave Ricks.
“I wanted to work for Idaho State Parks, so I accepted the stipulations attached with the job,” said Merrill. “I do not have an answer as to why women lag so significantly. I believe we are well qualified to perform the same jobs in a professional manner.”